UN plane talks between parties over Western Sahara before the end of the year

PUSL.- Then the UN Secretary-General’s personal envoy for Western Sahara wants to call for end-of-year talks between Morocco and Polisario Front to end a a decades-long conflict, said the Security Council chairman on Friday.

Horst Koehler, former German president and former director of the International Monetary Fund, informed the Council behind closed doors of his efforts to restart negotiations after a ten-year period in which it was not possible to bring the parties together because of Morocco’s intransigence in respect of the premise on which the ceasefire agreement was based in 1991, the holding of a self-determination referendum.

The press conference following the meeting with statements by British Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen, whose country holds the presidency of the UN Security Council this month, was not broadcast on UN television, curiously at the very start the transmission was paused.

“There is strong Council support for Koehler’s approach and its proposal to try to bring the parties together by the end of the year,” said Jonathan Allen, the second APF news release.

Koehler will consult “all parties involved” on “modalities, format and everything else,” Allen told reporters after the meeting.

Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict have stalled since the last round of UN-sponsored talks in 2008.

Morocco refuses to sit at the negotiating table if the solution is not its proposal for autonomy for Western Sahara and rejects the referendum on self-determination at all, with which it agreed in 1991 when it signed with Polisario the cease fire under the auspices of the United Nations and the African Union. It was this agreement that led to the creation of MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Western Sahara Referendum) whose sole purpose is to monitor the ceasefire and hold the referendum. The Polisario Front has even accepted years ago to include the proposed autonomy as one of the options of the referendum , but Morocco is aware that there is no possibility of winning the referendum and for that reason has always hampered all efforts.

The Security Council approved in April a resolution drafted by the United States that called on Morocco and the Polisario Front to prepare for negotiations and renewed MINURSO’s mandate for only 6 months, ending on 31 October.

A Council diplomat said Koehler expects to send invitations in September for the parties to take part in negotiations before the deadline of October.

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